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Business card exchange in Japan: Japanese etiquette

When you attend a business meeting in Japan, you will most likely follow the ritual of the meishi-koukan: exchanging business cards.

So what is this ritual?

Prepare your business cards

Have your business cards or meishi ready, as the ritual of exchanging business cards is usually the first thing that happens in a meeting.

If you visit a Japanese company, make sure you have enough meishis on your nice business card or meishi holder (it is highly recommended to buy a business card holder or meishi-ire to keep your cards in good condition, as well as having the meishis you receive). Even if you have a meeting with one or two people, it is very common for more people to attend from the other side. Typically, the person’s manager and the manager’s manager will also attend.

If multiple people from both sides gather together, it is often the lowest ranking person who approaches first to start the ritual, although there may be cases where the highest ranking people exchange meishis with each other first, then the next one in the ritual. row, all the way to the youngest person.

The beginning of the ritual

Hold your own meishi with both hands (in the corners so it doesn’t cover your company text or logo), with the text in front of the person you are exchanging with. This is that the other person can read your data immediately when they receive your meishi.

If your meishi has English on one side and Japanese on the other, show the Japanese side if you know the other person understands Japanese.

While exchanging your meishi, give a quick introduction of yourself:

ABC kabushiki-gaisha-no-John Smith-to-moushimasu – “I’m John Smith from ABC company.”

(of course, replace it with your company name and your own name).

Receiving the meishi

Receive the meishi with both hands and express your gratitude by saying:

Choudai-itashimasu. Yoroshiku-onegaishimasu. – “Thank you for your business card.”

It is usually polite to look at the details first (or pretend to) and then exchange a little chat. In many cases, if you are a foreigner, you will be asked where you are from.

After receiving the meishi

Please do not put them back on your meishi stand as it is considered very rude.

Leave it on the table until the meeting is over. Having the meishi in your sight is a good reminder of the person’s name if you need to refer to them by name.

If you have exchanged multiple meishis, place them in the order in which the people are seated.

Advanced manners

Here is a list of other manners to consider:

  • When you receive the meishi, please do not cover the company logo on the meishi with your fingers.

  • Do not deliver meishis that are bent, bent, or dirty.

  • Don’t play with the meishi in front of the person.

  • Do not write on the meishi during the meeting (you can write on it when you return to your office to remind you of the date and purpose of the meeting).

  • Don’t leave the meishi on the table when you leave the meeting.

  • Do not exchange meishis on the table.

Make sure you get a good support for meishi.

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